Friday, February 29, 2008

Entrepreneurial support – The conversation series

So here is something new for interested entrepreneurs.

Venture Farm Institute Web Conference
First event : March 17,2008 8:30am-9:15 pst

Pick Your Topic & Register

The purpose of the series is to inform and enrich the entrepreneur to understand the Funding Process and focus on Business Execution.

The Conversation series is also a complement to our workshop Series with Rapid Fire <learn more>, a 3hr Live Roundtable of providing early stage companies uncensored feedback, from the investor perspective, as well as a 2-Day Workshop on Effective Entrepreneurship <learn more>.

How to participate?: This series is online. You need a computer with web access.
What is on the Agenda: The selected topic will be discussed. A short Q&A for you and your guests is also scheduled.

Who should participate in the webconference?: Any Entrepreneur who wants to build a great company...and yes that may include raising money!

Hope to see you on line.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Entrepreneurial lesson: Ingredients of a failed presentation


In the past couple of weeks I have heard a few pitches and noticed some common ingredients. So in my humble opinion here is what did not work.

1- Selling features and product capabilities as opposed to a vision and a company.
2- Being in love with the idea and failing to see the need for a business model.
3- Getting lost in details and going on tangents.
4- Pretending to know it all.
5- Failing to demonstrate how investors can get a return on their investment.
6- Having a big salary for founders built into the projections.
7- Too much animation (distracting) and too small of fonts (can’t read).
8- Disagreeing partners
9- Asking for too much money or not enough to get to the next milestone - winging it.
10- Offering a pre-cooked deal – We have a private placement memorandum (PPM).

Friday, February 8, 2008

Entrepreneurial Observation: yet another reason to be agile

Just came back from the Always On event in NY; over 600 people packed into a couple rooms on the 36th floor of a fancy hotel – I was reminded of the events and conferences during the late 90’s – lot’s of buzz, loads of optimism and discussions of the perfect storm!

This time the typhoon (as Tim draper from DFJ calls it) is centered around the digital media and what it is doing with advertising models incumbent distribution channels, production time frames, schedule, etc.

Lots of acquisitions, big number valuations, bigger venture investments, and all that Jazz ! just like it use to be in late 90’s. Not that I mind it.

Although I do buy the argument that things have changed since the 90’s; including better business models, proven models of monetization, etc. but a typhoon is a typhoon and when it leaves it destroys!

I am advising to all entrepreneurs that agility is now more critical than ever; execute fast, forget about perfection, build a business that can get to stability and sustainability and fast track to exits if you can.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Entrepreneurial Consideration: Managing the ripple affect

A non academic view of business change & improvement

Stating the sometimes forgotten obvious:

A business is a living entity that embodies many functioning organs. It performs the best and is healthy when all the elements are working together in harmony. The physical components of this living organ includes sales, marketing, IT, logistics, accounting, etc. and its psychology is represented by the core values, cultures, and beliefs. A pain or a dis-functionality in any organ influences the effectiveness of the business entity as a whole – if you are ill mentally or physically you can not be fully productive.

An illness maybe addressed by a better diet or some vitamins or a few pills a day for a few weeks (process improvement, overtime, incentives, etc.) or may need more drastic measures such as chemotherapy or surgery (re-organization, firings, new IT systems, a new business model, change of partners, etc.).

Almost always, to cure an illness the prescribed actions have some side effects. A change in the sales force compensation plan, influences the accounting daily practices, may require new software, may increase returns and impact the resource needs at the warehouse. An improvement in the resource planning software impacts the practices at both payable and receivable ends, Promote the person who is not competent and deal with your good folks looking for another job, etc. etc. Sometimes we actually create the illness with our actions (cutting our hand with a knife or hiring the wrong person).

Stating the not so obvious challenge:

So BECAREFUL of what I call “THE RIPPLE EFFECT” – Make a decision about A and watch for the ripples impacting B. And every decision big or small has some ripples. So what should an entrepreneur do, not make a decision ? or lose time and opportunities by over analyzing and procrastinating on every decision?

You want to stay healthy, you have to monitor your heartbeat, your cholesterol, your blood pressure, etc. etc. and react quickly to avoid worsening of your situation. You want to run a thriving and healthy organization, remember to measure the “right” performance indicators and watch them closely with a broad inclusive perspective.

Yesterday, I met an entrepreneur, I asked her for some performance metrics about her business and the answer was “we are too busy to spend time on measuring, we will put some performance elements when we get a chance.” Well, good luck! is all I can say; drive a car blindfolded and you will run off the cliff, and that is no accident.